Do we really make our own luck? – and other thoughts
There is a saying to that effect, that we make our own luck through our decisions and actions. But, this is not really true for everyone. Nor does it explain all that befalls us in life. Taken to an extreme, this kind of thinking can be used to “blame the victim”.
Yes, it is correct to believe we have some influence over the course of our lives, and our decisions and actions do make a big difference in our lives. But, we are never in complete control of our lives, and are always, each and every day, at risk of having unexpected, negative things happen to us. As well, even careful, thoughtful individuals can and do make bad decisions, sometimes on impulse, or by lacking good judgement in some matters. (Candidly, I have poor judgement in some areas even now in middle age, and still make big mistakes. There is some truth in saying that I have been my own worst enemy at times.)
Several months ago, I wrote an essay wherein I questioned the law of karma and whether it does really explain what we see going on around us in the world. We seek answers, we desire understanding of what goes on around us and in our own lives. But, perhaps, such understanding is beyond our grasp.
How can we say that the children born into hunger and despairing circumstances in the poor and/or war-torn countries of the world “made their own luck”? What are we to tell our recent university graduates in the US when they cannot find suitable jobs in a stagnant economy? So, beware of sweeping generalizations, and let us take a broader perspective in our thinking.
Over the course of our lives, much inconvenience, some injustice, and, yes, much unwanted and uninvited suffering comes our way. Life is a struggle the whole way through and can be very frustrating, even depressing at times. One must learn to live with this as we cannot really control external circumstances to any great extent. Thus, we need to focus on how we choose to react to what life sends our way, and be proactive where possible. This is not easy. Yet, if we can learn to live within the constraints of the human condition, we can possibly avoid some destructive mistakes and lessen how frustrated we may feel. (Frustration can lead to anger and despair – both dangerous emotions.) Like it or not, we have to endure the numerous aches and pains as we age. As well, when we are young, we must struggle and make significant sacrifices to build a life for ourselves and for our families. Each stage or phase of life has its share of challenges and problems and disappointments.
Patience and temperance are necessary. And, one can work on becoming more patient and less easily upset by life’s daily frustrations. Consciously focusing each day on some positive aspect of life can help. Despite all the suffering, there is still (some) joy to be found in life.
Personally, I find the constraints of the human condition irritating and depressing at times. One such constraint is that one can never undo a mistake or an unavoidable accident. So one has to live with lasting consequences. Another constraint is that certain birth defects or health issues cannot be corrected and have to be endured and lived with, so to speak, each day of a person’s life. So, I need to work on better accepting – and learning to live constructively with – these constraints.
Thanks for reading.